Slow service, good food

TAKEOUT

September 01, 2004|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Montebello Deli & Cafe is a small oasis of urban civility along a busy stretch of Harford Road.

Outside, the deli has a few chairs for sidewalk eating nestled among flower boxes filled with impatiens. Inside, bleached-wood floors and a tin ceiling give the space a warm but up-to-date feel.

There are plenty of magazines and newspapers, and a computer is available in one corner (although there is a charge for using it). On a recent visit, the television was tuned to CNN and the radio was playing WYPR - news junky heaven.

The menu features egg sandwiches for breakfast and deli sandwiches for lunch. (Soup is served in the cooler months.)

Service was cordial but exceedingly slow for some reason. Even so, with so much to read, watch or listen to, the wait was bearable.

Everything we ordered was good. A cheeseburger ($5.95) was particularly satisfying. It featured a good-sized chunk of grilled meat smothered in cheddar cheese. In a nice touch, the bun also got toasted over the grill. Fries that came with the burger were terrific.

We also sampled three sandwiches, and all were more than adequate. A havarti-and-ham sandwich ($5.25) featured dill-infused cheese and a big spread of mustard, and came served on tasty, toasted white bread from the Big Sky Bread Co. in Roland Park.

The horseradish-roast beef sandwich ($5.25) came with a large stack of thinly sliced beef, topped with horseradish-flavored cheese and a slightly tangy tiger sauce. Although the deli was out of pumpernickel, the rye substitute was just fine.

Finally, we customized a smoked turkey sub ($6.25), adding bacon and provolone. The turkey meat was plentiful and appealing.

The deli had two dessert choices; naturally, we tried both.

Carrot cake ($2.79) was gooey and sweet. A layered chocolate cake ($2.79) had old-fashioned chocolate icing and more calories than could ever be tabulated. But, who's complaining?

Parking is on the street, but there are usually some spaces nearby.

We would certainly make a return trip to Montebello Cafe, but next time, we will plan on calling our order in ahead.

Montebello Deli & Cafe

Food: ***

Service: **

Waiting area: ***1/2

Parking: **1/2

Where: 4311 Harford Road, Northeast Baltimore

Phone: 410-426-2023

Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Prices: Soups, sandwiches, burgers, breakfast sandwiches, from $1.29 to $5.95; no credit cards

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor:*

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